. Did Something Die in Here?
. very long. This brief appearance is today little remembered, being overshadowed at the time by the debut of the pet cemetery.
Maybe they were testing the waters or something. It came down and stayed down for 1994 and the first part of 1995 and then went back up,
this time with more conspicuous bunting. A few years later, sometime in the latter part of 1997, a telescope appeared on the railing, with a barometer on the wall behind it.
These were pretty overt offerings from WDI, and guests were expected to engage with them at some level. I liked them just fine, because they gave you no help at all, just like real life. With regard to the wreath and bunting, a host of questions come to mind. Does someone still live here, and did a relative of that someone just die? Or did the owner die, and the staff were instructed to put up the wreath and bunting in the will, perhaps? Or did the staff do this on their own, for one of their own? And why the old-fashioned, 19th-century bunting and wreath display? Are we seeing someone's antiquarian or eccentric tastes at work? Or if we're willing to countenance a more supernatural explanation, since ghosts do exist in the world of the Mansion (its sole fantasy feature), is it possible that these items are (gulp) apportations from the past?
This is exactly as it should be. You don't have to think about this stuff at all, of course. The show is not diminished in any way if you don't. But if you do, you can come up with four or five possible explanations for the wreath and bunting, none of which require you to leave this world for a fantasy world. There isn't enough information to decide among the options. As I said, it's just like real life. You may have noticed that the world is not especially eager to explain itself to you as you pass by. You have to figure it out yourself, boys and girls, and often you don't have sufficient data, and that's just how it is. Now finish your sandwich and stop that whining.
Yes, and what about that staff, anyway? I've come to accept the Butlers and Maids as part of the show rather than theme park noise to be screened out. After all, the house is well-kept, the candles are lit, the yard is immaculate. Someone must attend to the place, unless you're prepared to put all this down to supernatural activity. I'll concede that the latter option is possible in the world of the Haunted Mansion, but for me, lawn-mowing ghosts just don't cut it. Barring that, how do we square the presence of this staff with a house given over to ghosts, operating a retirement home? You don't get the impression that any mortal actually lives there. Who would want to do that? It's a haunted freakin' house.
Again, we're given very few clues. You never see any of the staff on the second floor, and there is evidence of complete neglect up there. Cobwebs are everywhere. It's easy to imagine a staff willing to keep up the grounds and the first floor but refusing to go upstairs. Too creepy, too scary, perhaps. It's bad luck. There's a curse. Whatever. No one goes up there unless it's absolutely necessary.
But where does this staff come from? Your guess is as good as mine, but it's perfectly possible to account for them. Maybe one of the last owners created an endowment that pays a lot of money in interest, funding a trust managed by a steward who hires enough staff to keep the place up, as per the trust fund agreement. Perhaps there is also a cozy relationship with the city (something to do with the endowment) so that an alderman keeps the stewardship position filled, which is in the city's interest anyway since they don't want the house to become a crumbling eyesore. The nearest relative, the actual owner of the building, is presently unknown. That's a mess no one wants to bother with until they really have to. They'd rather wait until the legal owner just shows up some day and claims the place, seeing as how the endowment has been paying handsome dividends, and the current arrangement has been increasingly lucrative for both the steward and the city. So the unoccupied house is kept up nicely (or nicely enough) in perpetuity. There is no "evidence" for any of this, but it shows that what you see is entirely explicable within this real world. They give you no help in figuring this out, and why should they? What business of yours is any of that? Go away.
The bunting and wreath far outlasted the other second-story exterior additions. We can cover this ground quickly. (Just enjoy the purdy pictures.) Wreath and bunting were both still there in the first part of 2004...
The web was just a cute, temporary decoration, of course, and after it came
down in 2006, the wreath went back up and lasted for a few more years:
[Edit 2017: As several readers have noted, the wreath and bunting are back. I'm not going to keep
charting its comings and goings. It's enough to say that it does seem to keep coming and going.]
. What a shame. I think the telescope added something special and was the best of these second-floor additions.